An interview is a written or recorded account of a conversation between two or more individuals. Typically, the interviewer poses a series of questions that elicit a response from the interviewee(s).
An interview may be registered if the conversation has been fixed in a tangible medium of expression and if it contains a sufficient amount of creative expression in the form of questions and responses. Specifically, an interview may be registered as a literary work if it has been fixed in a written transcript, an audio recording, a video recording, or other medium of expression. An interview may be registered as a work of the performing arts if the interview was performed or is intended to be performed before an audience, such as a television interview, radio interview, or onstage interview.
In all cases, the applicant should provide the name of the author who created the questions and/or the author who created the responses that appear in the interview, and the applicant should provide the name of the claimant who owns the copyright in that material. The Literary Division may accept a claim in “text” if the interview contains a sufficient amount of written expression, or may accept a claim in “text by interviewer” or “text by interviewee” if the claim is limited to the interviewer’s questions or the interviewee’s responses. When completing an online application, this information should be provided in the Author Created field, and if applicable, also in the New Material Included field. When completing a paper application on Form TX, this information should be provided in space 2, and if applicable, also in space 6 (B). For guidance on completing these portions of the application, see Chapter 600, Sections 618.4 and 621.8.
The U.S. Copyright Office will assume that the interviewer and the interviewee own the copyright in their respective questions and responses unless (I) the work is claimed as a joint work, (ii) the applicant provides a transfer statement indicating that the interviewer or the interviewee transferred his or her rights to the copyright claimant, or (iii) the applicant indicates that the interview was created or commissioned as a work made for hire. If the applicant fails to provide a transfer statement or fails to answer the work made for hire question, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant if it appears that the interviewee or the interviewer is attempting to register the entire interview instead of registering a claim in his or her contribution to the work. For guidance on providing a transfer statement, see Chapter 600, Section 620. For guidance on answering the work made for hire question, see Chapter 600, Section 614. For guidance on joint works, see Chapter 500, Section 505.
• Michael Scorch submits an application to register his interview with Major William Smith. The application names Michael and William as authors of “text of interview questions” and “text of responses to interview questions,” respectively. Michael is named as the sole copyright claimant and the transfer statement indicates that he obtained the copyright in William’s contribution “by written agreement.” The registration specialist will register the claim.
• Beth McBride submits an application to register her interview with Franklin Murphy. Beth is named as author of “text by interviewer” and Franklin is named as author of “text by interviewee.” Beth is named as the sole copyright claimant, but a transfer statement has not been provided and the work made for hire question has not been answered. The registration specialist will communicate with the applicant to determine if Franklin transferred his copyright to Beth or if the interview was created or commissioned as a work made for hire. If Beth does not own the copyright in Franklin’s contribution, the specialist will ask her to limit the claim to the “text by interviewer.”